Which material is best for my kitchen countertops?

Rita Deo Rita Deo
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The choices available in the market when you go to purchase kitchen counter tops can be overwhelming. But among the wide categories of materials like natural stone, wood, laminate and other solid surfaces sold in the market for kitchen counter-tops people in general look for durability, aesthetic beauty and value for money.  While colour, pattern and finish of material play a major role in kitchen counter-top selection every buyer should also keep in mind a few basic criteria of pros and cons of each variety before making a hasty purchase. The colour and texture of a kitchen counter also establishes the mood of the area’s décor like natural stone for country style kitchen and laminate or steel one for a modern kitchen.

Here are the details about few commonly used kitchen counter top materials that can help to make up your mind about the most suitable one.

Laminated board counter

Besides appearing attractive, a kitchen counter-top has to endure weight from varieties of hot and cold vessels and as well withstand liquids that cause stains. The laminate kitchen counter-top are best suited in this situations. The low cost of laminate kitchen counters in comparison to wood, stone, marble etc., makes it an attractive option for buyers looking for inexpensive choices to change existing old and chipped counters. Though laminate kitchen counters were introduced way back in 1950’s they are still popular due to seamless look and finish with integrated sinks and glass back splashes in some kitchens. Laminate counters are less expensive than other varieties as these can be purchased in pre-made form with instructions and can be fitted as a DIY exercise too. This eye maroon and white combination creates an invigorating atmosphere in the kitchen urging one to cook delicious food.

Natural stone

Durability of natural stone and their ability to withstand stains makes them the most wanted material for counters in kitchens and bathrooms. Of the three common varieties of natural stones comprising of granite, marble, limestone and soapstone are used to design kitchen and bathroom counter-tops among which granite is the most common.  Though soapstone was more commonly used for building fireplaces and bathroom sinks it is now being used for counter-tops as well as its surface darkens over a period of time which hides the light stains and blemishes.

Steel Kitchen counter

Stainless steel counter tops are available in three types of finishes namely satin smooth, matte and speciality finishes. In speciality finishes its strength is enhanced with 10 percent of chromium. This metal alloy is 100 percent recyclable and is highly preferred by modern kitchen designers like the one here designed by TLA Studio. The biggest advantage of steel counters is that these are easy to maintain and impervious to rust, corrosion and also stains as they can be wiped down with damp cloth and dish-wash soap.  It has to be installed by a professional as steel requires wood backer to fasten it over the cabinet sections.

Glass counter

You would be surprised at the number of color, texture and finish options available in the market for glass counter tops. You can chose from single solid color ones to counters embedded with several splashes of colors within its layers that suit the color palette in the kitchen. Some low cost glass counters are also made of recycled glass but that is not an eco-friendly option as its surface could be toxic. Recycled glass counters are also mixed with concrete resin and tiles that make them tough and increases ability to withstand heat. Glass counters are pricey but if your heart is set on its classic beauty and appearance it can also be used as an accent in some parts of the counter in conjunction with other materials like steel or granite depending on the actual effect you want to create.

Wooden countertop

Kitchen counter tops made of wood were common in most old kitchens until new materials like granite, glass, laminate, steel and others came into the market that were more durable without the warm and aesthetic appeal of wood. But now these are coming back into vogue as advanced technology and chemical treatments has made them more tough and resistant to termites and water.  They offer a wider range of choices in colour, texture and grain orientation due to the different types of wood species available in the market. If the counter is going to be used a chopper block and also keeping hot vessels off the stove then the quality of wood should be strong enough withstand wear and tear. So when you are opting for a wooden counter in the kitchen look for permanent kind of wood finishes that are much easier to maintain and can be cleaned by simply wiping it with a damp cloth.

For ideas on ideal materials for a kitchen counter-top so that it lasts for several years without any serious damage, refer to this ideabook.

Composite material

If you are looking for an easy to clean surface which inhibits bacteria and is easy to clean then a counter made of composite material is the best choice. The advantage of these counters is that they can be custom built to suit one’s requirement for size and shape and can have special features like trivets. As composite counters are made out of recycled materials you can choose the thickness according to the requirement to lend an earthy element to your kitchen. The light coloured composite counter here gives a stylish air to black cabinets and drawers. Composite counters as easy to maintain, food safe and do not emit radon gasses like some natural stones.

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